Discussions are underway in the Senate General Affairs Committee to direct the Vermont World Trade Office to be managed under the Vermont Chamber’s existing international trade program, in conjunction with Champlain College, the U. S Department of Commerce and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. These partners collectively will strategically collaborate to encourage international trade on behalf of Vermont businesses. Funding would come through a memorandum of understanding and initially would be a $100,000 grant.While this is a significantly different model than the current World Trade Office, this new business entity will be driven by the concerns of the business community while having capital knowledge input from the educational community as well as state and federal government.The World Trade Office budget was also comprised of significant federal funds, which have not been renewed. On Thursday Governor Jim Douglas stated “I think this public-private partnership is appropriate given that some significant federal grant support for the office is expiring,” Douglas said. “And since those grants are not likely to renewed, a partnership makes sense.” Agency of Commerce Secretary Kevin Dorn is working closely with the Vermont Chamber as the effort to continue to support Vermont businesses with world trade opportunities continues to unfold in the legislature
The document has been signed by the Netherlands’ ministries for finance, foreign trade and development co-operation, and social affairs and employment.The signatories also include charities Oxfam Novib, PAX, Amnesty International Netherlands, Save the Children Netherlands, World Animal Protection and environmental organisation Natuur & Milieu.The signatories said they would co-operate on six projects – to be announced next year – aimed at boosting the impact of pension funds.The development of the covenant for sustainable investing for pension funds was co-ordinated by the Social and Economic Council (SER), which has supported similar agreements with insurers and banks.The pension fund of chemicals giant DSM and KLM’s scheme for ground staff have already announced that they have signed the document.The €1.6bn Pensioenfonds Gasunie said that it may sign if the – as yet unknown – participation costs turn out to be reasonable.The signatories must factor the OECD guidelines – stipulating how pension funds must trace and report risks – into their ESG policy within two years.A yet-to-be-established monitoring committee will check how schemes honour their commitments. More than 70 large Dutch pension funds with combined assets of almost €1.2trn have signed a covenant with NGOs, trade unions and the Dutch government pledging worldwide co-operation on sustainable investment.The aim of the agreement is to exert worldwide influence on policies and outcomes related to human rights, labour conditions and the environment through pension funds’ combined investment clout.By mapping risks and negative impacts of investments, based on the UN’s Guiding Principles for businesses and human rights and OECD guidelines, companies must provide pension funds with a better picture of where human rights violations and environmental damage occur.This would enable pension funds to mitigate risks and use their influence for solving problems, using the expertise, experience and networks of the other participants in the covenant.